Afraid your sedentary lifestyle at the office is killing you? Research shows that this isn’t an unfounded fear. According to the World Health Organization, long periods of sitting can increase your risk of developing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cause death.

Luckily, there are things you can do while at work to help give your body a workout.

Your Muscles Will Thank You Later.

Before we begin the 10 minute office workout, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a substitute for a proper workout at home. Concentrated exercising of your body’s various muscle groups is still important, but working out at the office will help keep your body from sitting for long stretches at a time. You’ll feel more relaxed, and your muscles will thank you later.

You don’t have to perform this workout all at once, nor must you perform every last exercise here. Ideally, you should find time to intersperse them throughout the day.

Begin by choosing a warm-up exercise and then pairing it with a workout exercise that compliments it. Do those and then get back to work. Take a break later and choose another warm-up and exercise.

If you have a lengthy break, of course, you can feel free to put together a full workout routine using these exercises.

woman warming up before exercise back view

The Warm-Up

Yes, even desk exercises require you to warm up. These warm-up exercises will help get your blood flowing and give your mind a breather, so when you focus on tasks again, you’ll feel more productive. Just choose a couple and move on to the workout.

  • The Shoulder Pinch: Sit up straight, pretending there’s a string pulling you up like a marionette or perhaps like you’re balancing a glass of water atop your head. From there, engage your core by tightening your abdomen and pinch your shoulder blades together. Some people like to pretend that they’re trying to grab a pencil with their shoulder blades. Hold for as long as feels comfortable, and repeat. Do as many reps as you’d like; some people aim for around 20 reps.
  • The Sitting Core: There are two phases of this exercise, which stretch and warms up the abs. You can either do phase 1 followed by phase 2 or alternate between them for as many repetitions as you want.
  • Phase 1: Sit tall and straight in your chair, pelvis slightly forward. Brace your core as though preparing for someone to hit you in the gut. Try to hold for 15 seconds and repeat for as many reps as you wish.
  • Phase 2: Sit on or near the edge of your seat and engage your core. Lean back slightly but keep your back straight. Lift one foot off the floor and hold for 15 seconds if you can. Relax and then repeat, this time raising the other foot. Repeat for as many reps as you’d like.
  • Chest Stretcher: When sitting hunched over a desk or computer, it’s easy for your shoulder and chest muscles to start cramping. To counteract this during the warm-up, begin by sitting up straight and placing one hand in the small of your lower back, palm outward. While pressing your hand into your back, pull your elbow and shoulder back. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat with the other arm.
  • Seated Quad Stretch: Sit up tall and squeeze your thighs together. Without relaxing, straighten one leg and lift it several times as though it’s a fishing bobber. Next, flex your foot, stretching as necessary. Rinse and repeat with the other leg.
  • The Torso Twist: There’s a good chance you’ve already performed this one because it’s fairly intuitive. Sit up and inhale deeply. On the exhale, twist your torso to either the left or right. Hold for as long as comfortable while taking deep breaths, and repeat for as many reps as you wish.

Now that your warm-up is done, you can move on to the actual workout.

Office Workout: 7 Best Exercises

Stretching is all well and good, but what your muscles really need is to do some work. Stronger muscles mean more calories are burned while resting, which is a good way to help burn off extra calories. Remember, though, you cannot outrun your fork. Keep nutrition in mind, especially when working an office job.

Some of these exercises are more discreet than others. As with all things in this workout, pick and choose what you’d like to do and improvise as needed.

1. Tricep Dips

This exercise must be performed with a stationary chair, unless your aim is to make others laugh! Move to the front of the chair and place your hands on the edge of the seat, fingers forward so they might touch or even grip the edge. Keeping your back as close to the chair as possible, lower yourself up and down a few inches. Remember to try and use your arms more than your legs and to do the heaviest lifting when you’re exhaling. Do as many reps as are comfortable.


2. Desk Push-Ups

The first thing to do is make sure your desk can actually support your weight, as some office desks can be fairly flimsy. Stand a few paces in front of the desk and place your hands on it about shoulder-width apart. Next, engage your core and lower yourself down as you would doing a normal floor push-up. Do as many reps as comfortable.


3. Wall Push-Ups

If your desk just isn’t going to work for you, you can perform push-ups using a wall. Stand a few steps away from a wall and, leaning forward, place your palms against it, shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself up and down against the wall as you would a regular push-up


4. Squats

These can be performed in front of a chair or on your own as a regular squat. Simply stand up and lower yourself down, as though sitting in a chair (although don’t actually sit back into the chair), and then raise yourself back up. It can be helpful to clasp your hands or net your fingers together and hold them at the level of your chest.


5. Tip-Toes

Simply raise up on your toes, lifting your calves, and hold for five counts. Lower back down and rinse and repeat.


6. Lunges

With a straight back, lower yourself to the ground in a kneeling position. Specifically, place one leg in front of the other and gently lower yourself to the ground. Your back knee should be touching or close to touching the floor, but don’t let it rest on the ground. Ideally, you should try for 10 reps on each leg, but do what’s comfortable. You don’t have to be stationary, either. You can do this as you go down the hall, too.


7. Seated Crunches

Think you have to be laying on the floor to do crunches? Well, think again. You can do them while sitting in a chair, too. Place your hands behind your head and lift one knee toward the opposite elbow. Don’t forget the crunch part! Twist your body and bend down toward the knee, so that the opposite elbow touches it or at least reaches for it. Alternate legs with each new rep.


Stay Safe

Remember not to push yourself to the point of injury. While many of these exercises aren’t as intense or varied as you’d get in a ‘proper’ workout, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to push yourself to the point of injury. These are still workout exercises and can lead to overexertion, so while feeling the burn might be a good sign, don’t push on if you start feeling pain.

In Conclusion

There’s no reason why your job at the office should damage your health. Taking the time to get up and move is a great way to build some strength while saving yourself from the consequences of life at a desk.